Monday, November 9, 2009

Psalm 50 – Straight-talking God Addresses the Court

People throwing lit cigarette butts out of their car windows: it’s not only a fire hazard and littering combined, it’s an abuse of God’s green earth. Yet, do we challenge them? Not usually. We hardly ever, when we think about it, have people talk straight to us—even when we’ve offended them. I’ve had times when I’ve wanted to say something to that person littering, yet my courage has often evaporated as I consider the possible negative responses I might get—mostly if I don’t know them.

Sure, many get emotional i.e. angry, but hardly ever straight. We live in the sharp extremes of either an overly politically-correct world or one that’s excessively “precious,” and critical.

Where’s the twain meeting? The world communicates either too softly or too harshly.

Not so with Psalm 50; God gives two types of believer quite a pasting about some quite simple assumptions we make regarding our interaction with life, a.k.a. in the Presence of God.

For one believer the problem is sacrifice without heart—action without intent. Reminiscent somewhat of Job 38 – 41, God seeks to remind Israel how little he actually needs their sacrifices in verses 9-13. The right sacrifices are of thanks and a fulfilment of vows (v. 14); in other words, to live truly.

For another type of believer it’s a “borrowing” of God’s holy code—but only when it’s convenient. And convenience is fleeting indeed, and it’s never appropriated to God. They lie and deceive, but God won’t.

Both of these issues above—wanton sacrifice and disdain for the true Covenantal Word—disgust God. He wants to remind us all. And he does so in no uncertain terms. Indeed, God occasionally comes across as almost grace-less in this psalm. I did say, almost.

But, we think prematurely if that’s where we leave it.

As a basis of liturgy the psalm is a courtroom monologue. It propounds forth the verse from 1 Peter 4:17a (NIV):

“For it is time for judgment to begin with the family of God.”

God wants it known that his statutes are non-negotiable—for all people; but most directly for his anointed—the ones who’ve accepted his salvation. The Word of God, of course, favours none. And he simply wants to be remembered by virtue of our sincere thanks, and to receive our willing obedience.

And that’s it—it’s a pretty simple faith really when we wrap it all up!

© S. J. Wickham, 2009.

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